The Heritage Council has established a Museum Standards Programme for Ireland to raise professional standards.
The Heritage Council has suffered cuts of 65% in the past three years, with its status now "under review".
4.2.2 Heritage issues and policies
The division of heritage management and services between various government departments between 2000 and 2010 along with increased devolution to local government, has generally been decried as representing an illogical disintegration of the sector. The Heritage Council is the only heritage body that takes an integrated approach to natural and cultural heritage not in state care. In 2006 the Heritage Council established a Museum Standards Programme for Ireland. This important initiative sets out to improve all aspects of Ireland's museum practice and in particular raise the standards of care for collections across Irish museums and galleries. A voluntary programme, it has attracted involvement from across the cultural spectrum from national institutions to small, volunteer led organisations. To date, of the 52 participants in the programme, 15 museums have achieved full accreditation and 10 have been awarded interim accreditation. The Museum Standards Programme for Ireland (MSPI) aims to benchmark and raise professional minimum standards in the museum sector. To achieve accreditation in the Programme participants must meet 34 standards across 7 categories: Museum constitution, governance and policies; museum management; caring for collections; museum documentation; education; exhibition; visitor services. It is complemented by a training programme and a targeted post-graduate museum course supported by the Heritage Council and delivered by the University of Ulster.
The work of the Heritage Council reaches into the heart of communities throughout Ireland through its network of 28 County Heritage Officers, who are employed by the Local Authorities. County Heritage Officers provide a structured and co-ordinated approach to managing and promoting local heritage and have played an important role in Local Authorities since 1999. Heritage Officers ensure that heritage receives due consideration at local level and provide a valuable connection for the Heritage Council to local communities. They carry out strategic, operational, promotional, co-ordination and facilitation roles in both the Local Authority and in their county at large. Some of the functions performed by County Heritage Officers include:
As in the case of the cultural institutions (see chapter 4.1) the Heritage Council is also threatened with dissolution through reabsorption into the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Having suffered severe cuts – of 65% in the past three years – its status is now "under review". The Council has made a robust case for its work, detailing the Economic Value of Ireland's Historical Environment as a contribution of EUR 1.5 to the economy and direct support for 25 000 jobs. Its publication in 2012 of "Supporting Jobs, Education and Tourism in Local Communities" made a strong play for its public service remit and record, and the flexibility that engendered that work.
For more information, see
European Heritage Network: Country profile Ireland